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Full text of "The Tangier Smith manor of St. George, address delivered at the eighth annual meeting of the New York branch of the Order of colonial lords of manors in America, held in the city of New York on the 24th day of April, 1920"

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The Manor of St. George was situated at the heart of Long 
Island, and comprised a broad belt of woodland and meadow 
stretching from the Atlantic shore to a highroad, which runs 
along the backbone of the Island, midway between the Atlan- 
tic ocean and the Sound. The waters of the great South Bay, 
teeming with fish, clams and oysters, were originally included 
within the Manorial boundaries. It was constituted in 1693 
under a patent granted by Governor Fletcher to Colonel Wil- 
liam Smith. In other meridians the name of Smith is impressed 
with no special distinction, but in the annals of Long Island it 
is borne bv a group of distinguished families and is blazoned 
with a dignity similar to that which lends lustre to the Pilgrim 
Fathers of New England or the Cavalier founders of Mrginia, 
the Bradfords, the Endicotts and the Standishs. the Berkleys, 
the Randolphs and the Lees. The fact that this Manor does 
not bear the name of the Proprietor but a title which is pecul- 
iarly associated with the royalty of England, wafts o\er seas 
into this new world a peculiar whitT of that feudal atmosphere 
of which it was a relic, and hints at the intimate personal rela- 
tionship which existed between its Lord and the British throne. 

William Smith was born February 2, 16.=14, at Weld Hall in 
the little village of Xewton, near Hingham Ferrers. The 
names of his parents are jriven in the record of his christening 
wliich occurred a fortnight after his birth. The entry in the 
parish register reads: "William Smith, son of John Smith and 
Mary his wife, was baptized the 15th day of Februar\' 1654." 
The known facts concerning his parentage and childhood are 
meagre. Gossip hath it, that his mother was a Maid of Honor 
in attendance upon the Queen. If this legend of her associa- 
tion with court life be correct it would go far to account for the 
fact of her son spending his boyhood as a page in the royal 
service. This \'ocation may help to e.xplain why young Smith 
failed to receive the schooling customary for young lads and 
may indicate that he was regarded as set apart for a career of 
active responsibility rather than profe^sional attainment. It 

is evident that he po;5ei?ed a native endowment of more than 
ordinarv mentality, for if such an outlook was entertained for 
the child it was emphatically set at naught by the eminent 
achievement of his later years, in the attainment of highest 
honors in one of the most distinguished of the learned and lit- 
erarv professions. The earliest item of his biography which 
shines in unclouded historic light reflects his possession of a 
personality of recognized capacity and efhciency. The North 
African town of Tangier, the capital city of Morocco, just 
across the straits from the rock of Gibraltar at the entering in 
of the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, was presented to Charles 
II by the King of Portugal, as a wedding gift upon the occa- 
sion of the marriage of his daughter Catherine to the English 
ruler. To the ever open eye of English sagacity the location 
of the town marked it as one of the strategic trading posts of 
the world. As the agent through whom this in\-iting possi- 
bility should be realized the King selected young Smith, who 
as an attache of his court had been under the royal observa- 
tion from his boyhood. A commission as "Mayor of the 
Royall Citty of Tanger in Africa"* was granted him in his 
twentieth year, and gave him that distinguishing title which 
he carried throughout his life, and which he rendered so sig- 
nificant of fine character and distinguished public service that 
his descendants cherish it as a proud and priceless heritage. 

The dreams of the development of this African seaport were 
never realized though large sums of money were invested in the 
enterprise both by the crown and as personal ventures by many 
of the merchant princes of England. In an official report to 
the throne Smith was said to be "the greatest Proprietor in 
the Place."' Within a few years the project was abandoned, 
the little army recalled, the fortifications permitted to fall 
into ruin, and the Mayor who had been given military rank as 
Colonel, returned to England. But his sojourn in" this out of 
the way town had not been to him uneventful. On Xovember 
26, 16f5 in the English Church he was married to Martha 
Tunstall, daughter of Henry Tunstall, of Putney, County of 
Surrey, England. Such pivotal incidents of his domestic his- 
tory' are recorded by him with antique forms of speech and the 
strangely fascinating old-time fashions of spelling in a personal 
journal of most intense interest, both to lovers of antiquarian 
research and to those who have a pride in this ancestral story. 

* Title as gi%-cn by Col. Henry Smith in the Tangier Book, page 20. 

The series of ex'ents which shook his heart with emotions of joy 
or of sorrow may still be read in William Smith's own hand- 
writing.* This time-worn document also contains a series of 
curious recijies and suggestions for the comfortable ordering of 
the household, written by "Lady Martha" as his wife came to 
be called in later times. "The Tangier Book" is now in the 
possession of the Honorable Selah B.Stroncjof Setauket, Long 
Island. During Colonel Smith's stay in Tangier, six children 
were born but before his return to Engkmd three of them had 
died After a not ven.- e.xtended stay in London he turned his 
face westward toward that new world where the adventurous 
possibilities of life drew as loadstone draws iron, those who 
were conscious of leadership and ambitious of a place in the first 
rank of humanity's advance. In 1686 he embarked for America 
to seek his fortune in that land where illimitable resources were 
awaiting development. While in London another child died 
and one was born, so he began his voyage with three little ones. 
An infant daughter died at sea. She was born at Younghall 
in Ireland, from which port he embarked and because of her 
nativity on Irish soil was christened Hibernia. The entry in 
"The Tangier Book" which recites this sorrow concludes with 
the pathetic sentence "The ocean was her grave." 

The ship came to anchor in Xew York harbor August 6th, 
1686. The town into which Colonel Smith entered on that long 
ago summer afternoon was but a little village pleasantly situ- 
ated by the water's edge at the lower end of Manhattan Island. 
Where the Custom House is now located stood the old Fort. 
The spire of the Dutch Church beckoned to him and the arms 
of windmill waved greeting. Broad Street, whose great canal 
had been closed ten years before, was the main business 
thoroughfare. Pearl Street was a waterside promenade. The 
present Nassau Street was foretokened by a meadow path 
known as "The Path which leads by the Pie Woman's to the 
Common." A scattering line of private residences stretched 
along the south side of Wall Street. The palisades ujion the 
north side which Stuyvesant had built and from which the 
street derived its world-famous name, were either prostrate or 

* The record of his marriage was made by him thus: 

"Tanc'. this twentie-sixth Day of Xovembr 1675 
This day bceinse fryday I William Smith Borne in Xcwton neare Hin;:;- 
ham ferris in Xorthamptim was married to ifartha Tunslall of Putney in 
the Countie of Surrie By Doccf William Turmer in the Protestant Church 
in Tanger" 


falling and must have seemed strangely reminiscent of the 
abandoned defenses at Tangier. The tirst public work of which 
he became a witness was the repairing of this stockade and the 
erection of stone bastions for artillery at the corner of William 
Street, which involved such a burden of taxation that a rebel- 
lious contemporary described the undertaking as ''a monument 
to our folly." Doubtless he joined in the "hunting of the 
wolves," with which the Island was infested and for the de- 
struction of which the community was organized by a special 
proclamation of the City Fathers. 

The then Governor of the Province was Thomas Dougan — a 
man of forceful personality, of large experience in affairs, and a 
high-minded politician. Among the Colonial Governors he 
stands in the tirst rank. Dominie Selyns wrote of him "he is 
a gentleman of knowledge, politeness and friendliness"' and 
added that he had received a visit from his Excellency and 
could call upon him whene\er he chose. The broad-visioned 
policy of his administration is evinced by the justly famous 
"Charter of Liberties and Pri\-ileges" which he secured, and 
which not only enriched the City by many commercial advan- 
tages but established the principle of representative go\-ern- 
ment and guaranteed freedom of conscience to "all peaceable 
people who professed faith in God.'' In religion he was a 
Roman Catholic, a fact which ultimately set in motion a 
train of events which seriously affected the career of Colonel 
Smith. A common philosophy of life and kindred traits of char- 
acter inevitably drew these two men into intimate companion- 
ship, but there was an additional basis for friendship in their 
haxing held similar official dignity under the crown: Dougan 
having served as Lieutenant-Governor of Tangier. The year 
of Colonel Smith's arrival in Xew York was marked by the 
adoption of a new City Seal, which in its heraldic device, pro- 
claims the atmosphere of growing prosperity and enlarging 
influence which per\'aded the infant metropolis in which he had 
found a home. To the industrious Beaver of the earlier Dutch 
Seal were added a Windmill and a Flour Barrel, emblematic 
of industry and commerce. The whole was supported by two 
Indian Chiefs, whose presence is not easy to account for, unless 
it be that as they cheerfully permitted themselves to be mulcted 
of their rich lands for the sake of the grain and the grist, at 
such ridiculously small prices, they had come to be not unnat- 
urally regarded as in some sense rightfully to be numbered among 

the benefactors and founders of the commonwealth. The 
design was encircled by a garland of laurel. At the outset of 
his career on this side of the sea Colonel Smith seems to have 
played his part in this industrial life of the community. The 
records of Brookhaven (April 2od, 1690 1 contain an entry of a 
note given by Governor Dougan to Colonel William Smith for 
£293 "for goods" and in the paper Colonel Smith is styled "a 

For the New Yorkers of that day who desired to become land- 
holders the central and eastern stretches of Long Island pos- 
sessed magnetic attractions. Xot only was the natural wealth 
of these districts very great, but they were being largely occu- 
pied by those of English descent who were impressing upon the 
growing communities their ancestral habits of life and thought 
and linking the new settlements with the mother countr}- by 
christening them wth the home names of their native towns. 
These lands moreover were purchasable from their Indian 
owners at rates amazingly and alluringly low. Among the 
most attractive of such holdings was the Town (ship) of Brook- 
haven which ranged from the Sound to the Atlantic and from 
Islip to Ri\erhead. An emigration of lifty-five persons, com- 
ing from the neighborhood of Boston in 1655 were the original pro- 
prietors. These settlers were well-bred, highly cultivated, versed 
in the principles of English law and imbued with the spirit of 
Anglo-Saxon independence. The broad, well-wooded, well- 
watered fertile tract belting the centre of Lona: Island they pur- 
chased from the Indian Chief, Setauket. for " 10 coats, 12' hoes. 
12 hatchets, 50 eel spears. 6 kettles. 10 portions of wampum. 
7 handfuls of powder, one pair of child's stockings, 10 lbs of 
lead, 12 knives." 

The unlocked for item '"one pair of child's stockings" puts a 
heart throb into this otherwise somewhat sordid incident of 
barter and sale. To know the whole story of which it is the 
single sentence would be worth many times the value of the 
entire remaining in\'entory. 

Brookhaven soon became a township of great family estates. 
At the time of Colonel Smith's residence in Xew York it was 
generally recognized as the centre of the aristocratic conserva- 
tism of West Suffolk at its best. Naturally drawn toward 
such a region by the circumstances of his birth and the experi- 
ences of his life. Colonel Smith soon decided to make there hi~ 
permanent home. Most of the land which he desired was held 

X the Frontispitce of the Xeio York ilc;. 

by a handful of owners who were in\-olve(i in bitter litisration 
over title rights. Thanks to the Irish-like wit of Governor 
Dougan, the tangle was cut by the suggestion that all their 
difficulties would be readily and permanently settled if they 
should all alike sell out to Colonel Smith. In consequence of 
this Socratic advice Little Xeck. with much adjoining territory 
came into his possesison October 22d, 16S6. Five years later 
(May 25, 1691) Colonel Smith made another extensive pur- 
chase from an Indian named John Mayhew who concluded the 
sale for £35. The details of the deed strikingly indicate the 
somewhat vague and indeterminate methods of marking bound- 
ary lines which were then in vogue. The conveyance contains 
such descriptive items as these: "from a river, a line to the 
middle of Long Island" — " to a marked tree at the countr\- road" 
— "at the usual going over of Peconic River." "South line to 
the main sea until you come to that part of the beach that lies 
directly north of said river" — "East side of a certain house 
which Stephen Bagley and company used when they went 
whaling." There would seem to be an excellent chance for 
decided differences of opinion as to the exact lay of the land 
thus indicated. The deed is signed "John 2^Iayhew, his + 

Following the purchase of this tract Colonel Smith tiled an 
application with the Governor and the Council setting forth that 
the holdings which he had accjuired "compass about live miles, 
600 acres of upland, some meadows and thatch beds" and form- 
ally petitioned that this estate be erected into a manor to be 
knov.Ti as ''The Manor of St. George." 

The habit of life in the Province of Xew York was always 
colored with aristocratic leanings, while the Xew England colo- 
nies were pervaded with a spirit of democracy. In Xew Eng- 
land the lowest stratum of society was far above the peasantry, 
and there were few, if any, great landed estates, or large 
accumulations of wealth. In the adjoining Colony of Con- 
necticut the relation of landlord and tenant was seldom found. 
Education was general. The squire was a man of breeding. 
Clergymen were men of letters. In Xew York throughout the 
rural districts, there was a decided stratum of peasantry, and in 
the City a populace, between which classes and the merchants 
and the social anfl political leafiers a wide gulf existed. In the 
lowest ranks few were extremely poor, but among the well-to-do, 
immense fortunes were being accumulated. Landlord and 

tenant was the ordinary rule of relationship. Great manorial 
estates came into existence, miles in extent, cultivated and 
cared for by armies of tenants. Lord Bellomont describing 
the Manor of St. George said "Colonel Smith's grant runs hfty 
miles in extent on Long Island \\-ith an infinite number of 
goodly pines for pitch, tar and resin." The proprietor was 
known as the Lord of the Manor. The title did not signify that 
he was a member of the peerage, but denoted an ownership of 
land invested with ancient and extensive privileges. He had an 
ex officio seat in the Governor's Council. He had authority to 
hold "Courts leet and baron." In some instances it lay within 
his power to inflict capital punishment. On rent days, twice 
annually, the tenants flocked to the Manor House and after 
settling their rentals in coin or produce were entertained by 
general feasting and merrymaking. These estates were en- 
tailed by the law of primogeniture, which, however, was usually 
qualified by specific legacies to younger sons or daughters. 

The holdings of Colonel Smith were surveyed by the Surveyor 
General of the Province, an office, the necessity for which, and 
the importance of which, the conditions of the time render em- 
phatically apparent. The official return of the Surveyor was 
made September 19, 1693. The Petition was filed October 5, 
1693. The Patent was granted by Governor Fletcher October 
9, 1693. The opening sentence of this instrument states that 
it is executed in the name of William and Mary by Benjamin 
Fletcher "Captain General and Governor-in-Chief of the Prov- 
ince of Xew York and all territories depending thereon at the 
request of your loving subject. Coll. William Smith, one of the 
Members of Council and Chief Justice of said Province." The 
Patent states that the holding is located in the district "for- 
merly called Long Island and now the Island of Nassau, which 
was formerly purchased of ye native Indians." It recites 
that "the Lordshi[)p or manor of St. George's" is erected for 
"the future encouragement of our said losing subject." It 
further declares "that wee, reposing especiall trust and confi- 
dence in the loyalty, wisdome, Justice, pruedence, and cir- 
cumspection of said loveing subject doe * * * gi\-e and grant 
full power and authority at all t}-mes forever hereafter in the 
sd. lordshipp and mannour one court Leet and Court Baron to 
hold and keep." It concludes with the statement that "the 
said lordshipp and manor shall be and forever continue free 
and exempt from the jurisdiction of an\- town, township or 



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The interesting interrelationship between tlie powers of the 
throne and the prerogatives of the citizens, which was the burn- 
ing issue of the day and which was bye-and-bye to start Paul 
Revere on his world-awakening ride, is signally illustrated by the 
fact that before the issuance of this instrument and its going 
into effect it was twice submittetl to the vote of the Town Meet- 
ing. On March 28, 1693, fi\-e months in ad\ance of the official 
tiling of the Surveyor's report, a meeting of the Trustees and 
Freeholders of the Town of Brookhaven was held at which the 
proposed acquisition of land and the proposal for the erection 
into a manor were rehearsed, and the question was put ""Does 
the Town object?" After full conference and free discussion the 
Meeting unanimously adopted a resolution, which after reciting 
the boundaries of the desired Manor and the privileges of owner- 
ship to be conferred, concludes with a formal civic sanction of 
the proposed transaction, declaring in set terms that "it was 
voated and agreed that the above saide Coll. Smith may pur- 
chase and peacably enjoy as aforesaid." On November 27, 
1693, at a similar meeting the manorial patent as issued by 
Governor Fletcher was read and the question again proposed 
"did the Trustees object to any of its provisions" and again they 
'■voated" their unanimous approval. In May, 1694, at a Gen- 
eral Election Day, after due notice, the patent was once more 
publicly read and similar action was taken. 

In common with the ^lanorial Grants of the day, this Instru- 
ment invested the Lord of the Manor of St. George with au- 
thority to e.xercise certain judicial functions, known in legal 
parlance as the holding "courts leet and baron." The powers 
thus conferred have been popularly explained by John Fiske in 
his luminous discussion of the conditions of manorial life in his 
'"Virginia and her Neighbors." The two phrases signify, he 
states, certain methods of formally organizing the manorial 
communities for freedom in self-government. The Court-leet 
resembled a town meeting. All freemen could take [^art in it. 
It enacted laws, elected constables and other local oitxers, set 
up the stocks and pillory and sentenced olTenders to occupy 
them. It impanelled its jury and with the Steward of the 
Manor as presiding judge it visited with fine or imprisorment 
the vagrant, the poacher, the fraudulent dealer. The Court- 
baron was an institution in which all freehold tenants sat as 
judges to determine questions of law and fact. This Court 
decided all disputes between the Lord of the Manor and his 

of Ihe original Manor 

tenantry concerning such matters as rent or trespass. Actions 
for debt and the transfer of land were here tried with all tra- 
ditional formalities. In virtue of these chartered rights, the 
great landed estates of those early proprietors, according to 
Woodrow Wilson, "kept ali\e throughout the countrysides a 
form of liberty very ancient and very vital.'" They constituted 
"a school of sturdy self-assertion transplanted out of the feudal 
law of Old England into an air never breathed in the Middle 
Ages, and men of the lesser sort were heartened in their democ- 
racy accordingly." 

The extent and character of the property rights bestowed 
upon the Lord of the Manor of St. George can be best under- 
stood by a quotation from the Patent. The itemized inventory 
of his holdings is partially detailed in the following paragraph: 

"This patent doth give, grant, ratify and confirm unto said Coll. William 
Smith, his heires and assignes. all and every the forecited necks, tracts and 
parcells of Land and meadow within the respective limitts and bounds 
before menconed and expressed, together with all and every messuages, 
tenements, buildings, barnes. houses, outhouses, fences, orchards, Guard- 
ings. Pastures, meadows, marshes, swamps, pooles, poundes, waters, water- 
courses, woods, undenvoods, trees, timber, quarryes. Rivers, Runs, Rivo- 
letts, Brookes, Lakes. Streames, Creeks. Harbors, beaches, bays, inlands, 
fferj-es, fiishing, ffowling. hunting, hawking, mines, mineralls, (silver and 
gold mines only excepted) and all rights, members. Liberties, Privileges, 
Jurisdictions, Royaltyes, Hereditaments, profits, benefits, advantages, and 
appurtenances whatsoever to the aforesaid severall and respective necks 
and tracts and parcells of Land and meadow. Bay, Beach and Inlands, with 
the bay belonging or in any ways appertaining or accepted, reputed, taken, 
known or occupying as part, parcell or member thereof" 

This is not all, but it is amply sufBcient to make it apparent 
that if there was any sort or condition of material thing within 
the boundary lines of the grant, over which the Lord of the 
Manor was not expressly given control, it was because the 
lenses of the surveyor's theodolite were not powerful enough to 
discern it, the vocabulary of the dictionary ample enough to 
express it, or the imagination of the attorney sweeping enough 
to concei\e of it. 

In 1689 Colonel Smith removed from Xew "\'ork to Brook- 
haven. Soon after its occupancy a social function of happy 
omen was celebrated in the Manor House. The marriage bells 
rang for Miss Martha Smith. The bridegroom was Caleb 
Heathcote, son of the Mayor of Chester, England, and after- 
ward himself Ma\or of Xew York and Lord of the Manor of 

^ .:i:> 


From an en^ravins by St. 


n llir po<Miuon of Mia EUjnor J. Smith 

.4 j:^3.A.jri^v....,>?.A^&Mim 


BORN 1762, DLED 1!^39 

From a pholoiraph in //i? po^^esiion of Mi^s Eleanor J. Smilit 

Scarsdale. Together with his distinszuished falher-in-law he 
served as a member of the Council. In this same year Chief 
Justice Smith was appointed to command the SutTolk miUtia. 

The date (1689i at which Colonel Smith went into residence 
at St. George's Manor, was made famous by the Revolution in 
England which resulted in the dethronement of the Roman 
Catholic James II. and the establishment of the Dutch Protes- 
tant Princes William and Mary as the English sovereigns. The 
proclamation in the Colonies of this change of succession, 
which had been brought about by intense religious feeling, 
produced serious agitation. The excitement culminated in 
New York in the Leisler outbreak with which Colonel Smith 
became involved and which exercised a marked influence upon 
his subsequent career. During the agitations in England the 
City of New York was haunted by a fanatic and hysteric 
dread of popery. To have risen to eminence or influence under 
James, to have been loyal to the British crown, to be consid- 
ered as belonging to the aristocratic class, to be possessed of 
land or of money, put one under popular suspicion of afiiliation 
with Roman Catholicism and as beins at heart hostile or indif- 
ferent to the new social order which the popular imagination 
fancied would follow from the enthronement of Protestantism. 
A tense situation developed throushoul the Colonies. The 
ofiBcials felt themselves surrounded with stealthy foes. The 
well-to-do classes realized that the\- were the targets of a grow- 
ing and irrational popular hatred. The common people were 
obsessed with the idea that they were the objects of fiendish 
plots. In Boston a popular uprising led by the celebrated Dr. 
Cotton Mather overturned the go\"ernment and lodged Sir 
Edmund Andros in prison. By private messenger he appealed 
to Governor Dougan to send from New York without delay a 
special commission, of whom William Smith should be one, to 
demand his release. So virulent and menacing was the anti- 
papal excitement that his request could not be complied with. 
Under date of "Xew Yorcke, 1689, May the ll"^" it is recorded 
in the Minutes of the Council that 

Coll. Smith shewed and declared hU willin^ncsse to serve his Excellency 
S' Edmond .\ndros Butt hec living att Zcaltalkett, the mid- 
dle of Long Island, ware the people already shoocke olT this government 
and taking him to be a papist or a frind off them, fears if hee should goe to 
Boston that the people in his town wouM rise and plunder his house, if 
not offer violence to his family 


In Xew York the most grotesque rumors became rife. Staten 
Island was said to be infested with papist conspirators. Gov- 
ernor Dougan was believed to be the instigator of an infernal 
plot to destroy Xew York. The Lieutenant-Governor, a sin- 
cere Episcopalian, was charged with being a papist in secret 
and it was alleged that he was involved in a conspiracy to 
cooperate with the landing of King James on the Jersey beach, 
accompanied by an army of the French, for the purpose of 
restoring Romanish rule in the province. The inevitable reac- 
tion of mob mentality to such abnormal conditions of social 
excitement and confusion soon took place. There arose in the 
minds of the masses the \-ision of a judgment day for the rich 
and a millennium for the poor, when the populace should 
mount to the top round of the ladder and the aristocracy 
should be brought down to earth, to guide the plough and to 
wield the hammer. Such a situation is the historic cue for the 
demagogue. Enter, Jacob Leisler. Leisler was a man of great 
native force but of small breeding. He was a good hater, and 
the crown and Church of England were his pet antipathy. In 
conversation he was loud and coarse, and when angered swore 
like a porter. By refusing to pay revenue duties on the 
ground that the collector was a papist, he tlung the match into 
the magazine. In the explosion which followed he was lifted 
into the leadership of a popular revolt against constituted au- 
thority. The Fort was seized. The government of the city 
was usurped. Such civic and social leaders as Phillips, \'an 
Cortlandt and Bayard were maltreated and imprisoned. 
Whoever challenged the rightfulness of his rule were chris- 
tened "dogs," "'traitors," "hellish rascals." A group of city 
officials who at the house of Colonel Bayard, were celebrating 
the coronation of William and Mary, were insolently ordered 
to the Fort to join with Leisler and his crew in drinking the 
health of the newly crowned majesties. To avoid giving an 
excuse for outrage they complied, but as they passed through 
the streets the mob gathered about them with riotous threats. 
Physical violence was inflicted. Some were kicked and 
pounded with fists. One was hit with a musket and another 
was struck with a sword. Colonel William Smith was vocif- 
erously saluted as "a devil and a rogue" and was threatened 
with such serious mishandling that he was compelled to flee 
for his life, .\fter a dazzling flare the Leisler rocket was quickly 
spent and came crashing down to earth. The first official act 

of Governor Slouijhier. newly appointed by Kinc; William, was 
to arrest Leisler as ■■ha\ing been found in actual rebellion." 
A special court was summoned for his trial. Colonel William 
Smith, whom Governor Sloughter also appointed a member of 
his Council, was one of the distinguished and scholarly men 
selected to sit upon this commission. A contemporary writes 
of this bench of judges, "they were gentlemen most capable of 
discerning the truth and least prejudiced against the prisoners." 
The ablest la\\yers in the Province conducted the case, which 
resulted in the condemnation and execution of Leisler and his 
associates as being the rinijleaders of a treasonable conspiracy. 

During this same year il691 1 the .\ssembly abolished the old 
Court of .\ssizes and instituted a new Supreme Court consist- 
ing of five Judges; the Chief Justice was granted a salar}- of 
£130, the Second Justice £100, while the remaining three were 
to serve without compensation. The tirst appointees were 
Dudley. Chief Justice: Johnson. Second Justice: with Colonel 
Smith. Van Cortlandt and Pinhorne. Associate Justices. In 
1692 Dudley vacated his office by change of residence and 
Colonel Smith was designated as his successor in the Chief 
Justiceship. Throughout his long incumbency in this most 
responsible and exacting office the Colony was shaken with 
embittered political and social strife but he achieved an envi- 
able record for dignity, ability and impartiality. 

When Lord Bellamont became Governor of the Province 
(169S) circumstances led him to favor the adherents of Leisler. 
The course of his administration was so shaped as to penalize 
those who were responsible for Leisler's death and to bring to 
pass at least some of the theories of social reform which Leisler 
advocated, by imposing all possible checks upon the accumula- 
tion of wealth. This policy led to an immediate clash with 
Colonel Smith, who wa- one of the Judges by whom Leisler had 
been condemned and was also the proprietor of a great manorial 
estate. The. Governor promptly removed him from the Chief 
Justiceship and appointed in his stead Stephen \'an Cortlandt. 
Had it been expedient the Governor would have removed him 
from his seat in the Council, but his known loyalt\- and the 
high favor in which he stood with the throne stayed his hand. 

With reference to the land grants which had been constituted 

into ^Manors, Lord Bellamont formulated a radical polic>-. 

These enormous landed estates haunted his thought. To his 

mind all the wealth of the New \'ork aristocrac\- had been 


gained dishonestly. In his o[)inion preat tracts of Government 
land had been granted away to feudal lords without compen- 
sation and in contradiction to the best interests of the com- 
monwealth. He determined to strike a deadly blow at these 
landholders. A bill was prepared to be submitted to Parlia- 
ment which should prohibit any one person from becoming 
proprietor of more than one thousand acres under any circum- 
stances. The ardor with which he embarked upon this pro- 
ceeding may be inferred from the fact that among the first group 
of holdings which he sought to "shatter" were two of Dominie 
Dellius; one of Trinity Church and one of Chief Justice Smith's 
son-in-law, Caleb Heathcote. Another of his principal objec- 
tives was St. George's Manor. That a high official should be 
an e.xtensive landowner, that any proprietor should exercise 
feudal rights over a territory alleged to stretch along fifty 
miles of seacoast, and to belt the fairest region of Long Island, 
was adjudged by the Governor to be a glaring illustration of a 
system which was destructive of popular rights and one which 
he resolutely set himself to overthrow. In the Lord of this 
Manor he instinctively recognized a formidable antagonist and 
remarked to the Attorney-General of the Province that " Colonel 
William Smith seemed very much averse to the proposed bill." 
Rejecting the ad\ice of the .Attorney-General that the passage 
of the measure was well-nigh impossible, and that e\en if 
enacted into law it might produce civil war. the bill was laid 
before the Council. Three were for it and three were against 
it. Bellomont cast the deciding vote in its favor. Dominie 
Dellius at once set sail for England to appeal to the King, 
Trinity Church in\oked the aid of the Bishop of London. The 
Rector of Trinity, the Reverend Mr. Vesey. omitted mention 
of the Governor and his family in the Sunday prayers and 
substituted a petition for Dominie Dellius. imploring God to 
grant him a safe voyage and give him success with the King. 
The Governor retorted by petitioning the Bishop of London 
to deprive Mr. X'esey of his benetice. The upheaval was wide- 
spread and intense. The Clergy were aroused. The well- 
to-do classes were up in arms. The merchants openly aligned 
themselves against the reformatory measures. The London 
Lords of Trade were so bombarded with angry petitions, remon- 
strances and memorials that finally, to Bellomont's discomfiture. 
they laid upon the table his proposal for the destruction of the 
manors, and the King whispered in his ear a friendly caution to 
beware of over-encouraging the Leisler faction. 

.5' i 

^ } 


from a prin[ in the positiiion oj Miss 

Ucano, J. Smith 






When the death of Lord Bellamont occurred. March 5, 1701, 
the Lieutenant-Governor was in the Barbados and the gov- 
ernment of Xew York was left for the time being without a 
head. Colonel Smith hastened from the ^lanor of St. George 
to the City and asserted his right to act as President of the 
Council in virtue of being its oldest member, and therefore 
acting Governor of the Province during the interregnum. The 
four gentlemen present \ehemently disputed his claims, their 
ardor being due not only to their theories of the law, but to the 
circumstance that they Avere devoted adherents of Leisler. 
Before the debate was issued. Robert Livingston and Peter 
Schuyler, who had been detained by ice in the Hudson, arrived 
upon the scene and sided strongly \\-ith Smith. The walls of 
the Council chamber reverberated with stinging sarcasm and 
eloquent invective. The clamor became so strident that 
people in the neighborhood raised an alarm. Before a parlia- 
mentary decision of the dispute could be arrived at, the matter 
was laid to rest by the return of the Lieutenant-Governor. 

By Lord Cornbury, Colonel Smith was reinstated in the Chief 
Justiceship of the Province which office he continued to admin- 
ister until within two years of his death. 

Whatever justification Bellamont may have had for his em- 
bittered opposition to the creation of vast landed estates, (and 
his attitude was not without reason") and however clearly appar- 
ent it might have been that the maintenance of manorial rights 
must, and should, inevitably lapse with the later and larger 
development of the commonwealth, there are certain facts which 
ought to be remembered in connection with the bestowal and 
the exercise of these exceptional powers. The group of men in 
whom they were vested were endowed with rare gifts of a leader- 
ship which was singularly essential in those pioneer days. L'ni- 
formly they rose to the eminence which they enjoyed by the 
exercise of disciplined intelligence, wide-eyed vision, devoted 
patriotism, high ideals of political and social order backed by 
sterling character and fine breeding. The noblest possibilities 
of the Colony in its formati\e period could scarcely be more 
fully and more surely realized than by enlarging the sphere of 
their influence. The exceptional resources with which they were 
entrusted were devoted to exceptional ser\ice for the State. 
The Go\ernment required and benefited by their talents and 
their wealth. Civil and military duty was performed by them 
■with unstinted sacrifice of personal devotion and financial re- 

■source. Taxes were slow, often impossible of collection. 
Again and again the monies from the ^lanors saved the credit 
of the State. Business operations were limited, facilities for 
commercial interchange were but poorly established and New 
York is largel\- indebted for her present-day mercantile suprem- 
acy, her social, prestige, her political importance, to the re- 
markable energy, to the wise and tireless activity of that little 
group of Lords of the Manors whose spirit Governor Bellamont 
impugned and whose rights he vainly challenged. 

William Smith died at St. George's Manor February IS, 
1705, aged fifty-one years.* .\bout two years before his death 
he had voluntarily "laid aside some of his more burdensome 
dignities, but he continued to sit as a member of the Gov- 
ernor's Council until the end of his life. His grave is in a family 
burying ground at Setauket, Long Island, near the site of the 
original ?^Ianor House and is marked by a stone bearing the 
follo%%'ing inscription: 

Here lyes intered ye body of ye Hon. Coll. William Smith Cliiefe Justice 
and President of ye Councill of ye Province of Xew Vorke. Born in Eng- 
land at Higham Ferrars in Xorthampton Feb. ye 1 Xtii and died at the 
mansion of St. George Feb. IS 170^ in ye 51st yeare of his age 

The tombstone contains only his titles and the dates of his 
birth and death. In lieu of any formal obituary it is interest- 
ing to recall the fact that Governor Bellamont, his pronounced 
antagonist, testified that "Smith has more sense and is more 
gentleman like than any man I have seen in the Province." 

The Will, which opens with the injunction "I direct my 
body to be buried without any manner of pomp, " reveals the 
extent of his holdings in real estate, by disposing not only of 
the extensive tract in the Township of Brookhaven, but also 
of lots "near the road to Old Man's Farms." iPort JetTerson) 
lands near Southampton and Southold and of houses in Xew 
York (at the present site of Xo. 1 Broadway i. The Xew 
York property was bequeathed to his "daughter pro\i(ied she 

* The record of his death in ''The Tangier Rook'' was written by his 
eldest son, as follows; 

Man-- of St Georees Feb"-y IS 170^. 
Then .\lmighty God '.vas pleased 'after sixteen days sick- 
Lord day ness of a Rheumatism Vc to take to himself our hon* & 
3 a clocice Deare Father Col>: William Smith, who ye 2!*' of said in=t. 
afternoon was intered in the Evening where he had directed: it Mr 
Geo: Phillips preached his funeral sermon. 


do not marry without her mother's consent." In connection 
with the will, the toUowinE; inventorv of his estate is given: 

Wearln? apparel 


Silver Plate 


11 embroidered be!t5 


104 Silver Buttons 

£ 5 10s 

Silver watch 

£ 10 

Coat of Arms 

£ 2 

Silver headed Cane 

£ 2 

Fine Fishim; Rod 


Velvet Saddle and Side Saddle 

£ 10 

Turkey Scimitcr 

£ 5 10s 

Three Swords 

£ 8 

12 negroes 

Oxen, Steers. Cows 

Two-year-olds, Yearlings. 




The value of his wearing apparel compared with the worth of 
the family silver-plate, together with the ample equipment of 
belts and silver buttons signilicantly suggests that the Lord of 
St. George's Manor was by no means inditTerent to his personal 
appearance, but took pains to array himself in a fashion properly 
bespeaking the dignity and responsibility of his .rank. The 
''Turkey Scimiter" was doubtless a souvenir of the sojourn in 
Tangier. The mention of the negroes in juxtaposition with the 
barnyard animals is illustrative of the opinion of that day which 
regarding them as chattels naturally bracketed them with 
cattle. The total value of the estate, even taking into account 
the larger worth of money at that time, is singularly modest and 
would seem to conclusively rebut the idea that the Lord of St. 
George's Manor was using the high station in the Colony to 
which he had been e.xaltefi to accumulate a personal fortune. 
When the offices and opportunities that were his are remem- 
bered, the value of his estate is singularly and most honorably 

The Lady of the Manor outlived him four and a half years, 
d\"ing September 1 , 1 709, after a residence at St. George's Manor 
of twenty years. Grace and force were happily blended in her 
character and the eminence of her station was worthily main- 
tair^ed with mingled dignity and atTability. Sharing to the full 
all the interests of the life which came within her touch, she 
never descended from the position which she was called to 
occupy. With kindly respect and with neightjorly pride she 
was univer?all\- spoken of as "'Lady Martha." In the Meet- 

ing Houje jhe was afsigned a unique place amonsj thofe of 
highest rank. At the close of the Suniiay services the congre- 
gation remained respectfully standing as she withdrew from the 
Church, .\mong the family traditions it is whispered that upon 
occasion she donned her old-time court dress and walked the 
porch of the Manor House, as though in the royal presence, in 
order that the fineness of her breeding might not be forgotten 
and blurred. The Tangier Book contains many a page in 
her handwriting of curious and forgotten lore showing her 
knowledge of simples and that she was a past-mistress in the 
housekeeping craft of her day.* A single excerpt from an old 
business journal proves her possessed of a canny thrift and 
executi\-e ability which well qualified her to carry the respon- 
sibilities which devolved upon her when left in solitary control 
of the estate. She writes 

Jan ye 16, 1707. my company killed a }'earlins ("nhale") ivhich made 
27 barrels. Feb ye -i Indian Henry with his boat struck a whale and 
could not kill it and called for my boat to help him. I had but a third 
which was 4 barrels. Feb 12 my two boats and my son's and Floyd's boat 
killed a yearling whale of which I had half which made 36 my share IS 
barrels. March 13 my company killed a small yearling made 30 barrels. 
March 17 my company killed two yearlings in one day. One made 27 the 
other 14 barrels. 

Every glimpse of this Colonial gentlewoman which flashes 
through the misty \ears moves with warm pride the de- 
scendants of the grave and genial chatelaine of St. George's 

A very interesting sidelight upon Manorial life as well as the 
conduct of things in general at that period, is furnished by cer- 
tain happenings in connection with the building of the Meeting 
House and the organization of the congregation. The original 
house of worship was a small and simple structure onl\- twenty- 
eight feet square. "After forty years'" so runs the record 

* Here is a handful of samples taken at random: 
"to make a Boylcd puden" or a 'supercxcellcnt Cack" "to Pickell Con- 
Cumbers" "to make a good tfrigasee of Chickens'' "a Quakinge pud- 

"for a Blasted face or pysoned by any ill herb or wend" "for a ttelon" 
"for defness" "Oyle of Charety to be taken outwards or inwards'' 

"a paist to make ye hands white and smooth" "to wash ve head to make 
hare grow" " to keep your Teath Sounde" etc., etc. 


"another comniiltee was appointed to order and proportion a 
new building and to determine the place of its settinu up." Dif- 
ferences of opinion so deadlocked this committee that for four 
3'ears they were unable to make any report, even of progress. 
At the end of that time, a Town Meeting '"at which" to quote 
the Minutes "Colonel Henry Smith. Colonel R. Floyd and all 
the principle inhabitants and seigniors being present, — agreed 
that the site might be determined by a providential lot, which 
being truly and impartially executed, directed the place to be 
near and adjoining the old Meeting House." It may be doubted 
whether the practical politician of the present day. either in the 
church or out of it. would consent to stake the success of his 
cause upon '"a pro\-idential lot," but all then concerned ac- 
cepted this solution of their differences and the ^^leeting House 
was erected at the spot thus indicated and upon that same site 
within a gunshot of the location of the original Manor House 
stands its successor, the present church edifice. 

In connection with the locating of the Meeting House, the 
following order was taken concerning the "Minister's Sallery." 
The amount was fixed at £40, which was to be raised "after the 
same manner as the County Rate is and to be paide by Coll. 
Smith his mannor. The Towne of Brookhaven and Smithtown." 
Before the arrangements for the new Meeting House were com- 
pleted circumstances made it necessary to adopt an official 
plan of seating the congregation. The scheme decided upon 
strikingly reveals the distinguished position in the community 
which was occupied by Madame Smith. The documentary 
statement of the seating problem and its solution runs as follows: 

AMiereas there hath several rude actions happened in our church by 
reason of the peoples not bein? duly seated, which is much to the dishonor 
of God and the discouragement of virtue, it is ordered that the inhabitants 
be seated after manner and form followin?: 

That all householders that have or shall subscribe within a month to 
pay 40 shillings to Mr Phillips for his maintenance as minister, are seated 
at the Table and that noe wimmen are permitted to sett there, except 
Coll. Smith's Ladj- — nor any women kinde. 

The President was seated at the right: the "Clarke" to the 
left; the Justice and Justices "at the Table, whatever they 
paid." The pews from 1 to 5 were allotted in order of the 
number of shillings paid toward the expenses of the Church. 
The roster continues: 

7 for young men; S for ye boy<; 9 for niiniitcr~. ministers' widows and 
wives and for those women whose husbands pay 40 sliiUings to sett there 
according to their ages [Truly a most ungallant arrangement .'nd doubt- 
less difucult of execution! 15 for maids; 16 for girls; 17 free for any. 

The Tangier Smith coat of arms is thus described in the 
quaint phraseology of the herald: 

Argent — a Chevron between three GrilV.ns' heads — erased sable — langued 
gules. Crest — Griflm's head, erased ermine. -Motto — "Semper Fidelis." 

To those skilled in heraldic lore these hieroglyphics publish 
in emblematic form, the biography of the Lord of the Manor 
of St. George. The Chevron was given to those who aided in 
successfully defending a town against a siege. The three 
Griftins' heads show that a victory had been gained beyond 
the sea at which the warrior to whom the arms were granted 
had served as third in command. The Griffin's head in the 
crest has the same significance, the ermine showing' that a 
sovereign prince had been in command of the army. 

This Coat of .^rms has been the heirloom of a long and dis- 
tinguished line, who have imposed no bar sinister upon its 
quarterings. who have played an inlluential part in the develop- 
ment and direction of American character and atTairs from the 
days of the Colonies until its present expansion into a world 
power, who are occupying posts of honor in the state, in the pro- 
fessions, in letters and arts and in social circles: who are marked 
in high or humble station by the high breeding which is their 
cherished heritage: who are characteristically loyal to govern- 
menial order and constituted authority and conspicuously de- 
voted to the promotion of the common good, in that nne spirit 
of '"noblesse oblige" which is their heritage: who are grateful 
with a just pride for their ancestral dignity, and by the pur- 
suit of the highest ideals both in the discharge of their public 
responsibilities and in the culture of their personal character, are 
ever seeking to exemplify their ancestral motto: 
"Semper Fidelis." 

9 9J 
^ '^^ -"^